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Keywords:

  • Arctic-alpine tundra;
  • microbial communities;
  • terminal restriction fragment length;
  • phospholipid fatty acid;
  • 16S rRNA gene;
  • Acidobacteria

Abstract

The seasonal and spatial variations of microbial communities in Arctic fjelds of Finnish Lapland were studied. Phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA) and terminal restriction fragment analysis (T-RFLP) of amplified 16S rRNA genes were used to assess the effect of soil conditions and vegetation on microbial community structures along different altitudes of two fjelds, Saana and Jehkas. Terminal restriction fragments were additionally analysed from c. 160 cloned sequences and isolated bacterial strains and matched with those of soil DNA samples. T-RFLP and PLFA analyses indicated relatively similar microbial communities at various altitudes and under different vegetation of the two fjelds. However, soil pH had a major influence on microbial community composition. Members of the phylum Acidobacteria dominated especially in the low pH soils (pH 4.6–5.2), but above pH 5.5, the relative amount of terminal restriction fragments corresponding to acidobacterial clones was substantially lower. Both T-RFLP and PLFA analysis indicated stable microbial communities as the DNA and fatty acid profiles were similar in spring and late summer samples sampled over 3 years. These results indicate that differences in microbial community composition could be explained primarily by variation in the bedrock materials that cause variation in the soil pH.